Seattle Police Agree to De-Escalate

     SEATTLE (CN) – A federal judge approved a de-escalation training program for the Seattle Police Department after the Department of Justice investigated it for excessive force.
     The Justice Department investigated the Seattle Police Department in 2011 and found a pattern of excessive force, particularly in encounters with pedestrians.
     The Justice Department negotiated a 2012 consent decree with the police department, which agreed to accept an independent monitor and court oversight.
     The 11-month investigation concluded that the Seattle police had a pattern of unjustified use of force, particularly with people with mental illness or under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
     Investigators concluded that almost 20 percent of Seattle police officers’ use of force was unconstitutional, and that they used batons and flashlights as weapons “too quickly” and in unnecessary situations.
     The agreement included “minimal reliance” on physical force .
     Last year more than 100 Seattle police officers sued the Justice Department over that policy, claiming it would prohibit them from “using reasonable and effective force tools.”
     A federal judge tossed that complaint in October, finding the policy did not violate their constitutional rights to bear arms and self-defense, among other things.
     Last week U.S. District Judge James Robart approved a de-escalation plan from the police department, and a firearms training program.
     “In many instances, the concept of ‘de-escalation’ has tended to be imprecisely defined and served as a kind of ‘catch-all’ term or approach used to refer to anything that might defuse difficult police encounters,” Court Monitor Merrick Bobb wrote in a memo submitting the plans.
     “Clear and precise training on what de-escalation means in Seattle began in earnest last year. This year’s training will deepen officers’ understandings of how de-escalation is strategic, tactical, and valuable both to officers and the communities that they serve.”
     The de-escalation training will include “modified active listening, effective de-escalating communication, and appropriate recognition and reaction to body language,” among others.
     The firearm portion of the plan includes a 4-hour training session with interactive scenarios.

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